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posts that should have been held by the great nobles, and
the whole nation was thereby dangerously weakened.
The right of sanctuary was extended to all colleges, whose
occupants thus became entitled to protect murderers, a
most dangerous privilege ; and the monarch himself re-
fused to order the death penalty. Peace was enjoyed ;
but, sunk in this, the nation did not realize that it was
only the lull before the storm, and when the storm broke
their leaders were not capable of coping with it.
The Embassies of Peter the Great^ A.D. 1708 and 1715.
—In A.H. 1120 (1708) Peter the Great despatched an
embassy to the Court at Isfahan, headed by an Armenian
named Israel OriL This adventurer was accompanied
by a train of 700 followers, many of whom were
merchants who took advantage of the opportunity to
escape customs dues. The size of the embassy and the
aggressive character of the Tsar aroused much alarm at
Isfahan, and a rumour was circulated that it was intended
to seize Georgia and Armenia. The embassy, however,
was received with all hqnour in spite of its semi-com-
mercial character. Shah Husayn being unable to treat
the envoys of Peter as his ancestor had treated those of
Alexis. Seven years later another embassy reached
Persia, under the talented Artemii Volinski, and, as
will appear in a future chapter, Peter the Great was
evidently paving the way for action of a distinctly aggres-
sive character.
The Failure in the Persian Gulf.—In the Persian Gulf
the position of Persia was unsatisfactory and weak. Sultan
bin Sayf II., according to the Oman history, "made war
on the enemy by sea and land and encountered the
Persians in many places. . . . He also attacked and took
al-Bahrein." * The Persians were helpless without a fleet,
and appealed to the Portuguese, who agreed to render
assistance. The Portuguese, however, were in a very
different position from that which they occupied while
Maskat was in their possession, and on attempting to sail
up the Gulf they were attacked and defeated by the fleet
1 The Imams of Oman, p. 93.    Bahrein is the island in this case, and not the